Seek 'Wisdom of Crowds' re CD Rates

chisueSeptember 25, 2008

OK, 'Crowd', do you think CD rates will go up or down in the short term? I guess this is an inflation-related question, but what other factors are in play? (Like maybe will the FDIC actually have funds available?)

I'm looking at where WaMu is offering 5.00% APY on a 1-year CD and Corus Bank (near me) is offering 4.60% APY/1 year. The Bankrate table shows 1-year CDs holding even -- no ups or downs.

Given that neither of these one-star banks' offerings beat inflation anyway...what's a person to do? (Will not exceed $100,000 per CD, including projected interest.)

NB: Holding checks from Countrywide on matured CD's that paid 5.65%.

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I am going to move some investments to CDs where they have FDIC insurance.... What do you know about WaMu and Corus Bank? I have never heard of either of them and can this be done via the internet?.....right now 5.00% sounds pretty good to me. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 1:22PM
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Hi Chisue,

Given that neither of these one-star banks' offerings beat inflation anyway...what's a person to do? (Will not exceed $100,000 per CD, including projected interest.)

It REEEAALLLLYYY depends..... in your quest for safe growth, how willing are you to deal with complexity?

There are ways to design leveraged growth in tax-sheltered and principal-guaranteed structures that can produce a net/net result 2-3 times the results of CDs... but it involves the financial engineering of home equity, cashflow banking, and insured or gauranteed index products.

My experience is that message board participants are most usually looking for very simplistic solutions and shun complexity... not casting that upon you, but tossing it into the space for the freedom to exist.

In the rare case when online readers are indeed interested in digging deep into structured planning, they almost always (scratch the "almost"... 100% of the time) prefer to do it off-boards, despite their anonymous online identities.

Structured leverage plans can be (and have been) generating 8-15% net growth, tax free, using funding from tax-exempt home equity and qualified roll-out funds, incubated in market-indexed universal life contracts (from U.S. insurers,) exchange-traded notes (ETNs) through securities dealers, or guaranteed-investment-contracts from major offshore banks (Barclays or Lloyds.) The latter two product types being held in self-directed or standard ROTH accounts.

And that 8-15% is NET of loads, premiums, contract costs, closing costs, and annual interest costs.

The downside;
It requires solid expertise in the design, and annual review for cashflow adjustment... and the stock-jockey universe *HA*T*E*S the entire structured plan idea... takes "manageable assets" out of their world.

Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Sue, Do you HAVE to buy a cd? Why CD and why not something else with a short maturity? Is it the FDIC insurance that you hope for? Do you have a relationship with a brokerage firm?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 1:34PM
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It sounds like phoggie and I are in the same very conservative mode! (Yes, phoggie, these banks are FDIC insured. I wouldn't consider any that were not, although living in these strange times, I even worry that FDIC can be short of funds should enough banks get crunched. You might want to look at CDs at

patser -- Yes, we have a brokerage account. However, our advisor has not come up with anything secure that's paying 5%! Our MM fund there is less 1.6%.

Dave - We are retired. Not a long timeframe ahead. Thus the conservative stance. Learned long ago not to get into something I couldn't completely understand...think it was called Petro-Lewis? Made a nice commission for the broker though. LOL, well not really.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 2:18PM
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Check out Symetra;

They have a no-load laddered 5 year income annuity strategy that will outperform the CDs... there's an explanative presentation at their site.

Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner

Here is a link that might be useful: Don't Fear 65

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 3:35PM
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A (Canadian) financial newsletter I subscribe to suggests keeping terms for CDs short as they expect that the next major move in rates to be up.
Canadian interest rates usually track US rates.

By the way I am 61 years old, my mother 95 and my granddaughter 11. Given my family history I could live to see my granddaughter become a grandmother.
The bank keeps pushing products which would have me broke at some date in the future.
I prefer to plan my post retirement income so as not to run down my capital. That way if something unexpected happens I would have something to fall back on.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 5:01PM
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that is a good rate, but realize it is for a year that you cannot touch. it is fdic insured (assuming under $100k) and perfectly safe.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 6:35PM
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Another idea for the broker - at present, and this is in reverse from normal, municipal bond yields (tax-exempt) are higher than US Treasury (taxable) yields. I don't know if you need tax-exempt income, but buying a muni that has 1 yr to maturity would be an option I'd consider. Go with a Aa or Aaa for more/most secure.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 7:26PM
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I just heard on the news WaMu is gone. JPMorgan is buying up much of its deposits.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:47PM
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ian -- One year is as far as I'd go. Maybe take a few shorter terms too. I remember the inflationary days where CDs gave you double digits and it could be smack dab in our future.

mnk716 -- The one-year 'don't touch' is fine with us.

patser -- I'll call our advisor about muni's, but...the muni's we have held have nearly all been called over the past year...and I'm not overly confident about them when homeowners and businesses are increasingly unable to pay their taxes to the municipalities. (Paranoia?) Thank you for the suggestion!

jane_ny -- Yes, I see the end of WaMu -- huge deal! Makes me wonder how it would have played out had I taken the WaMu CD paying 5% last week. Would JPMorgan honor the rate to maturity? Refund my CD plus two cents earned and offer a new CD at a lesser rate?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 10:19AM
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I wouldn't touch WaMu with a ten foot pole.

Some people are investing in foreign currency CDs of countries like Australia and New Zealand. They are fiscally prudent countries, and they are commodity-based economies. Plus, you can get a current yield of up to 6.27%.

Foreign currency CDs are easy to invest in one source is Everbank, at

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Sue, there are two articles in today's WSJ that you might find helpful.

First is "Safe Investments to Buy Now" by Brett Arends, who writes the ROI column.

Second is "Bogle's Bets: Pros Offer Advice on Investing Now".

If you are not a WSJ subscriber, I saved the article transcripts and would be happy to send them to you as Word doc files, if you contact me off-line. They are interesting reading with some helpful tips.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 1:34PM
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jkom51 -- Many thanks! I read both WSJ articles online. Seems to agree with patser's advice re: muni's.

Excuse my ignorance, but if I buy a 20-year muni am I 'stuck' with it to maturity, or do these trade? I've only owned them to maturity -- or until called, which has happened to all but two of mine in the last couple of years.

The TIPS *sound* a little better than I think they actually are for me, given the weighting of the CPI, which doesn't reflect my personal experience of inflation.

A big Thank You to you all for listening and trying to eucate me! Never too late to learn.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Sue, Munis do trade so you are not stuck with a 20 yr muni until maturity. However, please remember that munis directly reflect overall changes in interest rates. If rates/yields go up, the muni price goes down...same with the reverse. Munis that have a call feature will be called in a declining interest rate environment - the municipality retires the old, higher rate bonds and often issues new lower rate bonds.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 2:45PM
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Isn't it WaMu that went belly-up today? Their stock went from $95 to $1. One star rating, is that like in a video where one star is a poor movie?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 4:09PM
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I purhased 100 shares of WaMu stock in 2003 for around $30 a share (it paid a good dividend). The stock went up into the $40+ range but never as high as $95.00. When was it $95?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 5:18PM
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Whether CD rates are "right" or not is, in my opinion, the wrong question. The right question is, how large a percentage of my nest egg am I investing and what's my time horizon? If I need the money in the next few years for a down payment on a house or to buy a car, then a CD is probably the right place. However, if you have a longer term horizon, take on more risk with a stock or bond mutual fund.

It's impossible to guess correctly which way interest rates will go. For that reason, the strategy for a "neutral" position with respect to future interest rates is to do a "ladder" of CDs -- put in some $$ in a 3-month CD, some in a 6-month CD, Some in a 12 month CD, etc. Then, when the 3-month CD matures you roll it over to a 12-month CD, and so you keep approximately the same distribution of maturities.

It may be tempting to go for more yield with a riskier investment -- maybe a CD with a bank that might fail. But historical data show that going for higher yields results in a disproportionate increase in risk. Even a "safe" investment like a CD can cost you money because, if the bank fails & the FDIC takes it over, your yield will be interrupted, and it may take some time and inconvenience before you get your money back and can reinvest it.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 8:55PM
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If you figure that you're going to need that CDIC back-up, better put your money into a small bank, for several banks have failed and I think that quite a few feel that if a fair-sized bank goes broke, the CDIC till will be bare. Being a gov't. agency, there'd likely be back-up, but that would cause substantial delay, quite likely ... and incur more debt for the U.S. gov't., which has taken on far too much, now.

As most of that debt is held abroad, they'll have to start paying higher rates in order to entice lenders to buy their debt instruments ... and have been printing money, with the likelihood that they'll be printing a whole lot more, soon.

These mortgage-initiating rascals in recent years sure make a bank robber carrying his loot in a pillowcase look like pretty small potatoes.

I remember as a kid, when I learned to ride a bicycle down our country road, wishing that the gravel on the road would become gold ... but it didn't take me long to realize that if it were gold for me, it would be for everyone else, as well ... and that soon it would take more than a pocketful of gold to buy a loaf of bread.

How long has it been since the U.S. Dollar was backed by gold? Or silver?

Our Dollar - same game.

And - when your economy gets a cold ... ours gets pneumonia.

What's the expected time-frame when you'll need to use those assets?

Almost 10 years ago, when I was 70, I called a financial planner on a phone-in radio show to say that I felt that I should plan to fund my life to age 100, which was six blocks of five years each.

Fortunately, I was able to live on somewhat less than my three pensions, and expected to be able to do so for some time - now, 10 years later, same story.

But it seemed to me that were I to need some of the assets to live on, I should not eat up all of the first block in the first five years, for it would no longer be there to earn some income for my future needs.

In fact, I thought that I should try to avoid using any more than that first block of the six in the first 10 years ... especially considerig that inflation would cause me to need more dollars to live the same lifestyle, a few years down the road. You know - that "inflation" that has shrunk the value of each one of our dollars-in-hand in every year since the late 1930s. And money in the bank is like money-in-hand: each dollar of the principal doesn't grow (but it sure does shrink).

Which means that I would not plan to use up 83% of my asset during that first 10 year period, and that a number of financial advisors feel that purchasing stocks for more than a 10-year time horizon makes sense.

He said that my plan made a lot of sense, in his view.

Short-term, if we fear losing capital, we need to invest in guaranteed dollars ... but long-term, those guaranteed dollar investments, after paying tax, and adding some to principal in order to maintain purchasing power, leave little for the investor. If anything.

Now, at 80, I carry about 80% of my assets in equity-based investments.

That would make many people have a hairy ... but I feel comfortable with it.

Yes, I have some losses, but I have some gains, as well ... and the tax structure here encourages holding equities. A single taxpayer with no income but dividends on Canadian stocks can earn over $46,000. before being required to pay ONE CENT of income tax (and having a low-income spouse with transferrable credits, or gifts to charity or a political campaign, or eligible medical/dental bills over 4.5% [in that case - 3% ordinarily] of net income will push that $46,000.+ tax-free income level even higher).

Some time ago, I wrote a thread either here or on "Money Saving Tips", I think, asking which ordinary person gained from inflation, and who loses.

When you put your money in the bank, say $10,000., 15 years ago, they guaranteed to pay you back every dollar, in addition to the rent on the money. There's another guarantee, that they never mention - they won't pay you one dollar more, either.

And the value of each of those dollars has shrunk, in every one of those 15 years ... as it has every year since the 1930s. That $10,000. would have bought a nice car, 15 years ago ... not now.

I figured a while ago, when I could borrow at 6.25%, that most of the time I could come close to breaking even on such a loan, using it to purchase quality stocks. So ... now, when I can borrow for 4.75%, breaking even should be an even greater probability, no?

If I'd borrowed your $10,000. from the bank, 15 years ago and paid only the interest in the years since (which I would never recommend, on a consumer loan)
.................................................................................................................................................... ................................... when I go into the bank to pay off the loan, now, how much will I need to pay?

Yes - $10,000. Which they will give to you, to pay off your CD, if you ask.

I gained from inflation, because I paid off the loan in depreciated dollars - you lost, since each of those dollars would buy less than when you loaned it out to the bank, 15 years ago.

The only value that your money would ever produce, relative to each of those years, was made right then ... and it was taxed - then ... and, in Canada, it's taxed at top marginal rate.

When I used those borrowed dollars to buy quality (retirement type) stocks, and since I came close to breaking even each year on the loan that I made, on average, over the last fifteen years, my investment in stocks grew quite a lot, so now, when I sell them, after paying off the loan, I have quite a lot of money left in my pocket.

Which asset was built with your money, not mine.

Granted - if the stocks went down in value - I had to find the money somewhere else to pay back to the bank.

But, as you know ... they didn't.

And, over a time horizon of 10 years or so, they haven't.

And a bonus for me - as the value of those quality stocks went up ... so did the annual rate of dividends that they paid. When I bought shares in a Canadian bank 41 years ago for $4.20 or so (also referred to below), they produced annual dividends of about a dime or 12 cents per year: now they pay $3.48.

As the number of dollars in a CD doesn't change over the years ... the amount of interest that they produce doesn't change much, either.

But - my investment in shares of a Canadian bank have gone from $106. in May, 2007 to just over $62.00 now ... why? They put substantial amounts into those sub-prime U.S. mortgages ... and that "asset-backed commercial paper" ("acid-backed commercial paper"??) that some of the U.S. financial scoundrels were peddling.

That now the U.S. government, which can't afford to, is going to partially bail them out of.

As some say - socialism for the rich ... private enterprise for the low-level guys who get stuck with the bill ......................... when the rich guys pull a big-time goof (but the rich guys get to keep their previously ill-gotten loot).

Remember the savings and loan fiasco of, what, 20 years or so ago?

Have you given thought to how much it has cost for the Mccain-Obama campaign over the past couple of years? Where do you figure that money came from? Apart from the costs associated with running for Congress or the Senate, etc.

Good wishes for increasing skill in managing your income ... and your assets.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 7:10AM
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>>Remember the savings and loan fiasco of, what, 20 years or so ago? FDIC insurance paid depositors their money without fail despite the fact that over 700 S&Ls failed during the S&L crisis.

And the taxpayers actually made money on the distressed assets sold by the Resolution Trust Corp. Just as we will probably make money on the AIG loan, and very possibly the distressed securities purchased by the bailout. These are asset-backed securities and simply need time to unwind. Time is something Wall St. does not have, but the government has a great deal of.

Even if 1/3 of all resetting mortgages fall into foreclosure - it is more likely that at least 30-60% of that 1/3 will remain in their homes and avoid actual foreclosure - 1/3 of all homeowners in the US have no mortgage payment at all. Therefore the value on these assets should be no less than 50 cents on the dollar, rather than the 0-10 cents the panicked stock market is valuing them at.

This is how financial institutions book "cookies" - assets previously devalued or undervalued, when market conditions improve they are allowed to book the rise in price as profit. If the distressed securities increase in price over time, as there is no reason to assume they will not, the government and taxpayers will be the ones booking the appreciation.

As one commentator on CNBC remarked, this is setting up to be an extremely valuable gift to the next president!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:17PM
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Hi again jkom51,

Thank you for the clarification. I am gratified that the S & L situation wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought.

Once more - disaster makes headlines ...
... but worthwhile resolution of what originally appeared to be a nasty situation ... doesn't.

That said, however, the U.S. wasn't in anything like the financial bind that it is today. Many who held U.S. financials, mainly debt paper, were getting restless before this latest escapade.

The Dollar has slipped rather markedly in recent years.

The huge debts ... plus the major deficit, prior to this issue, added to their discomfiture.

If the U.S. has to pay substantially increased interest rates in order to have the overseas holders of bonds to renew them, let alone buy the more that will need to be issued, such action would have major repercussions in the local financial markets.

As consumers have low savings, and large debts, many of them can't really afford substantial increases in the interest rates that they may be required to pay ... possibly fairly soon.

I hope that your optimism turns out to have been justified.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:53AM
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Everyone's contributions are much appreciated. Thanks!

I'm feeling a bit remote from my basic question, which is not on the face of it about how to 'ladder' or 'invest'. (Been there, done that, still doing it, but had looked at this piece of my pie as different.)

Sorry if you feel you've already TOLD me the options. Maybe I need some summing up. I want a safe place to put some cash (matured CDs and brokerage MM funds) where it can grow better than in the folds of a mattress. I started thinking that would be for a year via a CD, but I understand the wisdom of patser's 20-30-year muni's too. (Now I do! Had not seen that before.)

DH and I are retired. No debts. We're just peachy-keen *FINE*. We are fat and happy and grateful, and believe our non-splashy lifestyle has helped put us here. I'm not looking to play with leverage -- or to corner gold. I want to do what I can to stay fine for the next 20+ years, I don't want to look back and see I was too lazy to avoid a black hole. (Like the uncovered portion of MM funds.)

Bear with me. I'm learning, however slowly. I wouldn't presume if I thought this is just about ME -- seems others here have similar questions and concerns.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:26AM
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Yes, OJ, I agree and would expect to see (eventually) interest rates rise and (currently) the dollar weaken. As most are now saying - especially with the failure of the bailout legislation - that the US has definitely entered real recession territory, we can expect several years ahead of extremely slow or no growth domestically.

Fed Funds rates will lower, credit will remain tight because leverage ratios will remain strained for banks, long-term Treasury rates will probably rise at some point. They've been trying to, but keep getting knocked back. At some point that will end, however.

People like chisue who are in a comfortable position will receive lower returns, but can manage. People in marginal debt positions, however, and anyone on a tight fixed income budget, are going to suffer badly. Lower growth means lower returns and lower dividends, both of which DO directly affect Main St.

Although corporate munis are recommended by several experts (per the WSJ articles Sue has already seen), there remains a small risk of default, especially in unsettled markets like this. Unsophisticated investors should remember to maintain such investments as part of a diversified portfolio, and not overweight their assets into just a few sectors.

I'm not really an optimist! But like Sue, we have reduced expenses, eliminated or lowered almost all debt, and when my DH does retire, will probably not have to draw down anything from our retirement portfolio for living expenses. We can take a 5-10 year view of the market without worrying about it. But not many people, percentage-wise, have that kind of risk tolerance even though realistically, the majority of workers should learn to be comfortable with a longer timeline on their portfolio ROI.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 4:13PM
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Here is some more food for thought to consider before deciding where the best place might be to put your money.

" Investors swarm T-bills as House rejects bailout

But while it is possible that fears are overblown, even the most daring investors appear hesitant to make contrarian bets รข" particularly given how many times academics, government officials and bank executives called a bottom to the global financial systems' woes, only to have their predictions blow up in their faces.

The global financial landscape continues to change, keeping large and small investors alike on edge."

"Dow 778-Point Plunge: What's Next?

Today's Market Plunge
Is Telling You That They're
Stubbornly Wrong.

As we have been warning for many months ... and as we documented in our white paper submitted to Congress just last week ("Proposed $700 Billion Bailout Is Too Little, Too Late to End the Debt Crisis; Too Much, Too Soon for the U.S. Bond Market,") ...

Whether the Congress passes the bailout legislation or not, the outcome will be similar: The debt crisis will continue to deepen and spread. Many more banks will fail. The economy will sink into a severe recession. And those who stubbornly hold onto vulnerable investments will suffer some of the greatest losses in modern times.

Bottom line: The Black October we've been warning about has barely begun. The worst is yet to come.

But never forget: No matter how bad things may get, it is not the end of the world. We have been through worse before, and we survived."

Links that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:08PM
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Anyone game to buy some Johnson & Johnson? Exxon? Berk-Hath? Pipeline? Railroad (much more efficient use of diesel fuel than trucks, the main users now).

How about some assets denominated in Canadian Dollars? Pounds? Francs? Marks? Rials? Rupees? Renminbi?

My Canadian bank whose share was "worth" (whatever that means) $107 in May '07 has been dropping since, to just above half of the figure ... and dropped from $62.18 close Friday to $56.90 close Monday - they've been exposed to those stinky U.S. mortgages ... plus, guarantee a mortgge insurance company, I hear.

BUT ... I bought it 41 years ago for about $4.17, paying a dime or 12 cents (tax-advantaged) dividend. Last year they increased the dividend rate from $3.08 to $3.48.

Could I have found a GIC where the asset value would have doubled almost 4 times in 41 years? (In May '07 it was about 4.5 doubles in 41 years).

Could I have been offered a rate of interest that doubled almost 4.5 times in 41 years? That'd be from initial approx. 3% ... to 6%, 12%, 24% ... 48%?

Pigs might fly ... but I ain't seen any, lately.

Usually, after a severe drop in the market, there's an unusually rapid recovery in share price for a couple of years after the bad time.

The question is ... where is bottom?

One can't pick it - even the hot shots can't.

So ... the best thing to do, regarding money that one doesn't expect to need for 10 years or so, is to buy some as one goes along, then buy some more, and some more later, so that one has bought periodically over the bottom.

But - is this the bottom? If not quite "at" ... near it?

Doubt that.

Will the bottom come in 6 mos.? A year? Two? Five?

No one knows.

Though I'm nearing 80, I live on less than my pensions (and ... how secure is the current level of payout, from them?).

If I die next week ...

... after my estate deals with final expenses, including funeral ...

... and with current income tax liabilities ... plus those accrued on the capital gains (less losses) ...

... my kids and the charities can choose what they'll do with the remaining assets that'll likely be simply transferred.

The kids aren't in immediate need of income, so will almost surely let the assets run ... and, given time, they should recover ... and do well, in future.

Some of them, at least.

So I carry about 80% of my assets in equities.

I was raised on a farm - the price of grain goes up (rarely) ... down ... and sideways. Corn - the same.

Sometimes one gets a great crop - like the bumper crop of corn in the front field, 200 feet away ... if it makes it to harvest ... which is close, now. Sometimes one gets a bad crop ... or hail destroys it (but input costs were the same).

Price of cattle goes sideways (for substantial periods) ... down ... and (rarely) up.

Sometimes a cow dies. Sometimes a disease kills a substantial number ... or a dread disease kills a couple of animals, far away ... and the market goes to pot for years.

Same for pigs, chickens, bison, etc.

Fluctuating values is an old-hat game to farmers.

I'm simply an old farm kid, at heart ... second childhood, anyone?

Good wishes for increasingly shrewd use of your income - and assets.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:57AM
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Sue, Just to clarify - I suggested Munis with a short time remaining to maturity. You brought up the 20 yr maturity. From what you describe about your situation, I'd stick with shorter maturity investments...short being 5 yrs of less. And please note that I am not a pro at this. I just have some experience in investments.

You could also split the money - 1/2 in one thing and 1/2 in another.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 4:55AM
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To update: Yesterday we put a chunk of cash into 1-year CDs at 4.60 APY and a little cash into a MM Fund at 3.38%. Upon reflection, we probably should have divided it more evenly. Hope we aren't going to "repent at leisure" over the coming year. As this thread attests, I was trying not to "act in haste".

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 11:53AM
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